I think Gideon Tucker once said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” And as March rolls in, we Floridians are again left wondering how safe we are from our politicians’ great ideas.
While there’s still time before the conclusion of the 60-day lawmaking session (and still several hurdles to clear for many of the current proposals to actually become law) at least a few propositions have started creeping their way toward being penned into the statute books. Here are a few significant bills being floated for Florida this term:
1) Tort/Insurance Reform — Legislators have pitched an avalanche of insurance and tort reform bills (though none apparently mandate lowering insurance rates). Some changes being jockeyed are: a $1M cap/limitation on non-economic damages/pain and suffering (no matter how serious the injury or egregious the conduct of the defendant); scaling back Florida’s insurance bad faith law (which imposes penalties on insurance companies who act in bad faith toward their policyholders); and even a proposition to give more immunity to insurers who unreasonably delay property damage claims for months or years through the appraisal process.
2) Voter’s Rights – The legislature is also now looking to tinker with the very voting process itself by proposing to: increase the percentage required for citizens to pass a constitutional amendment; eliminate multi-subject constitutional amendments and to disband the constitutional revision commission charged with recommending changes to the constitution.
3) Parental Consent for Abortion by Minors – A controversial move to require parental consent for abortion by minors is making its way through legislative committees. Currently, the law only requires parental notification, not consent.
4) Cheaper Drugs from Canada — The legislature is advancing a bill championed by the Governor that would make way for importation of cheaper pharmaceuticals from Canada.
5) Medical Marijuana — In his first signed law as Governor, Ron DeSantis approved a bill repealing Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana paving the path for prescription holders to obtain medical marijuana in oil or smokable form. The law implements a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016.
So remember, in a flood of good and bad legislative proposals, be aware and be vocal or it may be your life, liberty or property they’re coming for next.
Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely- distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He also represents storm victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies and is based in North Miami, Dania Beach, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Questions? Contact: Russ@fladvocates.com.